Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mini Series: Small Group Instruction Curriculum and Planning

In my self contained (Federal Setting 3) classroom, I like to include a variety of learning opportunities for students throughout the day.  Students work independently, 1:1 or 1:2 with an adult, in small groups with 3-8 students, or together as a whole class (13 students).  When I first started teaching, I didn't dare to have any small groups regularly scheduled into my day because my students didn't seem I wasn't ready.  My students didn't have the skills to sit together without fighting or jumping up and running away from the table...and in the beginning, I didn't realize this was something I could teach them.  Small groups can be difficult to implement in a special education classroom without clear planning and prioritizing of your have students of varying abilities, students who don't get along socially, not to mention students who don't have pre-requisite functional skills for participating in a group.

Throughout this mini series, I wanted to focus on how to set up/plan for small group instruction. As you start to create your vision of what you want your small groups to look like and what your goals for your students are, I think it is important to make sure you relay this information to your paraprofessionals so they can help you in carrying out your vision whether they are supporting a small group you are leading or running one that you have set up for them.

1.  Establishing Big Picture Goals and Grouping Students 
2.  Establishing Rules/Routines/Norms for the Group 
3.  Student Engagement/Teaching Techniques 
4.  Curriculum and Planning
5.  Data Collection and Role of Support Staff
Now that we have our goals, rules, routines, and some ideas about how to keep students engaged, it is time to get down to planning and curriculum.  In my current role as an autism specialist/consultant, I often get asked "What curriculum should I use to teach ____?"  The problem with this question is...there isn't an easy answer.  It really depends on what specific skills you want to target with your students.  I like to start with creating a curricular map for the year outlining which specific skills I want to teach my students, and then search throughout a variety of curricula, Teachers Pay Teachers Resources, or Pinterest ideas to come up with specific activities for my students to utilize.

My curricular maps outline main academic or social skills areas I want to cover as well as targets under those categories for each season.  For academic subjects, I also used Common Core as a reference to make sure I wasn't forgetting any major topics.  Here is an example of a curricular map that incorporates academic, social, and classroom skills.  This is a general guideline of what I hope will occur over the course of the school year.  As the year goes on and students progress faster or slower than my projected goals, this map may need to be adjusted.

Next up, I create a monthly plan (based off of my curricular map) to show what specific activities we would be doing each day.  When coming up with my monthly plans, I sometimes chose topics or themes for certain days of the week (i.e. in math, work on computation Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and work on time/money on TuesdayThursday) or for an entire month (i.e. in science, we did body parts in September, insects in October, etc.).  You can also choose a topic that lasts for an entire week and continue to build onto those skills (i.e. in literacy, we worked on "who" questions for a week, then "who" and "where" questions together the next week, etc.).  Don't forget to pick activities and topics that are interesting and motivating to your students to increase your students' engagement.

How do you plan for your small groups?  How do you choose curriculum?  I love hearing your ideas!

1 comment:

  1. I love how organized and structured your process is! thank you for sharing, Paula